On Fri, 20 Nov 1998, John Howell wrote:
> Every volume has a diffeent editor, and they've been coming out for a long
> time now, so there may be differences from one volume to another.
In defense of MB, they seem to have changed their editorial policy in
recent years, and have headed in the direction of source studies and away
from text-critical editions.
> generally found, however, that readings that differ from the copy source
> are pretty well indicated by using smaller notes, by footnotes, or by
> discussion in the commentary section.
But differences in fingering and ornamentation--aspects that MB clearly
does not consider part of the "text"--are rarely covered, either in the
score or in the accompanying commentary. (Trust me on this one; I've
studied the sources.) What's worse, they don't say that such differences
even exist. In one extreme case--a fantasia by Bull--Thurston Dart failed
to mention the mere presence of well over 100 ornament signs IN THE ONLY
EXTANT SOURCE! Apparently he didn't consider them authentic, so he simply
ignored them. (I discovered them by chance while examining the microfilm
of the manuscript.) True to Bull's intentions or not, they are of great
potential interest to performers--and whether or not they're Bull's own
indications is indeed a debatable point. Couldn't Dart have at least
In attempting to arrive at the "true" intentions of the composer,
text-critical editions often fail to convey the uniqueness of each source.
Too often we are simply grateful for a "clean" edition. Don't let the
tidiness fool you.